Hungarian police force migrants off train as confrontation emerges

Hungarian police force migrants off train as confrontation emerges

BICSKE, Hungary - Reuters
Hungarian police force migrants off train as confrontation emerges

A migrant family is arrested by local police after their local train coming from Budapest and heading to the Austrian border has been stopped in Bicske, west of the Hungarian capital on September 3, 2015. AFP Photo

Hungarian police halted a train packed with migrants bound for the Austrian border and tried to force them to disembark in a town with a detention camp on Sept. 3, a confrontation that has become a focus of Europe’s migration crisis. 

After shutting migrants out of the main train station in the capital Budapest for two days, authorities allowed exhausted and confused migrants to board a westbound train. Hundreds crammed aboard clinging to doors and squeezing their children through open carriage windows. 

But instead of proceeding to the Austrian border, the train was stopped just west of Budapest in the town of Bicske, where Hungary has a migration reception center, and police ordered the migrants off. 

Police cleared one carriage, while five more stood at the station in the heat. Fearing detention, some migrants banged on windows chanting “No camp! No camp!” 

One group pushed back dozens of riot police guarding a stairwell to fight their way back on board. One family - a man, his wife and their toddler - made their way along the track next to the train and lay down in protest. It took a dozen riot police wrestling with the man to get them up again. 

The train’s departure from Budapest followed a two-day standoff with police barring entry to the station to more than 2,000 migrants. On Sept. 3 the police stepped aside and the crowd surged past. Some were wary of boarding trains, unsure where they were headed. 

“We want to go to Germany but that train in the station, maybe it goes nowhere. We heard it may go to a camp. So we will stay out here and wait,” said Ysra Mardini, a 17-year-old from the Syrian capital Damascus, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. 

As the train departed, lawmakers in Budapest were debating a raft of amendments to Hungary’s migration laws that the ruling party said would cut illegal border crossings to “zero.